Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Saucer of Loneliness

"A Saucer of Loneliness" by Theodore Sturgeon
First published in Galaxy, February 1953
You can read the story here.

Throughout its history, a lot of science fiction has portrayed aliens, non-Earth life forms, as emotionless, cruel, blood-thirsty monsters.  The aliens are hell-bent on destroying Earth, sometimes it seems for no reason at all.  I suppose this stems from our natural tendency toward xenophobia, the fear of that which is different.

But why should any other life from anywhere else in the universe be all that much different from us emotionally?  Maybe empathy, morality, and ethics are intrinsic to life and all beings share the emotions of joy, sadness, anger, and loneliness.  Profound loneliness...

The Story
A man is searching for a woman on a beach.  He believes she is thinking of killing herself, and he desperately wants to prevent it.  Just as it seems he has given up hope, he spots her.  She is in the water, and when she notices him there, she plunges into the sea and sinks.

He runs into the waves and saves her, which makes the woman angry.  She pleads with him to just leave her alone.  And she realizes that he knows who she is, but doesn't really know who she is.  He knows her from the newspaper stories, but she tells him the real story as they are sitting in the dark on the beach.

The story within the story: The woman was seventeen years old, walking in Central Park, New York, and feeling disconnected from the world.  Theodore Sturgeon has some beautiful passages here:
For a moment she felt separated from the life she lived, in which there was no fragrance, no silence, in which nothing ever quite fit nor was quite filled.  In that moment the ordered disapproval of the buildings around the pallid park could not reach her; for two, three clean breaths it no longer mattered that the whole wide world really belonged to images projected on a screen; to gently groomed goddesses in these steel-and-glass towers; that it belonged, in short, always, always to someone else.
At this moment, feeling like this, the woman looks up and sees a golden flying saucer.  It was only about six inches in diameter and was floating about eighteen inches above her head.  Suddenly, the saucer dropped against her forehead and held there.  For a second or two the saucer held her, seeming to lift her slightly, and then the woman collapsed to the ground.  The saucer dropped beside her, dull, metallic, and dead.

This activity certainly attracted the attention of the people around her, including the police, and in short order, the FBI.  When the woman sat up, she said, "The saucer talked to me," and the FBI agent on the scene to her to shut up, that she'd have plenty of chance to talk later.

Government officials pried and pried, but the woman wouldn't tell them what the saucer said to her.  She would only say, "It was talking to me, and it's just nobody else's business."  The saucer itself was no help, having turned from a golden color to a dull gray.  The woman did tell her interrogators that that was because it was empty now.

The woman served a little bit of jail time, having been found in contempt of court for refusing to reveal what the saucer said, and after getting out, she isolated herself from the unwanted attention and celebrity she received as a result of what happened to her.  Eventually she moved to the shore and cleaned offices and stores at night.  She began writing notes, stuffing them in bottles, and throwing them out to sea.  She said that if the right person found one, it would give them the only thing in the world that would help.  However, she realized that the time had come when it was no use anymore - she says, "You can go on trying to help someone who maybe exists; but soon you can't pretend there's such a person anymore."

Back in the present timeline of the story, the woman tells the man who saved her that it wouldn't have mattered if she had told them what the saucer said - they wouldn't have believed her.  They wanted a new weapon, super-science from a super-race.  But, she says, "Don't they ever imagine a super-race has super-feelings, too - super-laughter, maybe, or super-hunger?"

She wonders if the man wants to know what the saucer said.  He says that he will tell her - after all, he found one of her bottles, in which she always inserted the saucer's message:
There is in certain living souls a quality of loneliness unspeakable, so great it must be shared as company is shared by lesser beings.  Such a loneliness is mine; so know by this that in immensity there is one lonelier than you.
As it turns out, the saucer was just a message in a bottle, sent across the ocean of space to find someone who needed it.  The woman was about to kill herself because she had had no feedback, no indication, that her own messages were of any help to anyone.  She tells the man, "No one wants me? Fine.  But don't tell me no one, anywhere, wants my help.  I can't stand that."

The man tells her that he found one of her bottle two years before, and he's been looking for her ever since.  He has a club foot, difficulty expressing himself, and an ugly nose.  He can't get hired in places where people have to look at him, and he's never been with a woman.  He tells her that she is beautiful.

The story ends with the thought that even to loneliness there is an end, for those who are lonely enough, long enough.

What it all means
I really like this story - it resonates with me.  I suffer from depression, and have often felt disconnected from the world, and yes, very lonely.  I fully realize that my life isn't so bad that I need to feel this way; I am not alone and I do not face anywhere near the level of difficulties that many people do.  But that's the nightmare of depression -  it is irrational and feels uncontrollable.  Luckily, with the help of a great therapist, I've been able to learn to deal with it.  (I could see myself including more personal reactions and connections to the stories I post about in the future, but that's enough about that for now.)

The woman in the story, never named, has had a tough life, as many little details throughout the story reveal.  These include how she feels the world always belongs to someone else (quote above), as well as these lines: "No one had ever looked at her and made a respectful gesture before, not once, not ever;" "'attractive' is as dowdy as any woman is allowed to get if she is a victim in the news;" "She had a bedroom to herself then for the first time in her life;" "Pretty soon it was just like Mom's or school or anyplace, and she used to sit with her mouth closed and let them yell;" "The flower pot she made in second grade that Mom threw down the fire escape;" "She met a man who asked her for a date.  The first time."  Sturgeon does a great job of dropping these things into the story naturally, painting a picture of a truly lonely and depressed woman.  Haven't many of us felt this same way?  Haven't we all wished for someone to reach out and tell us that we matter?

A couple more things about this story:

1.  Sturgeon was probably pointing out, in 1953, that it's silly to think of aliens, if they exist, as being emotionless killers.  Emotions are big, and the greatest intelligence in the universe may have the greatest capacity for emotions.

2. Space is huge and lonely.  Imagine leaving Earth and heading out into that blackness.  Despite billions of stars to head toward, the amount of space is even greater.  Perhaps our own lives are like that on a smaller scale.  It is easy to feel alone.

Despite that, we can make connections, and there are people out there.  It might just take a while to find them.

You can watch a version of this story from a 1986 episode of The Twilight Zone.  Start at 27:19 for A Saucer of Loneliness.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


"Tunesmith" by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
First published in If, Worlds of Science Fiction, August 1957

The first time I heard Kings of Leon, those darlings of the indie music scene in the mid 2000s, was in this television commercial for a car.  I don't know if this led to the band moving from the "underground" to "mainstream," but some consider this their sellout moment, and at least for me, I'll always associate that song, and the band, to some extent, with a commercial.  I can't help but feel that this is too bad, since they seem like a genuinely talented group who could have made it big without "selling out."

Is that good or bad?  Without the commercial, would the band ever had had the success that they do?  Kings of Leon certainly aren't they only band to have music in a commercial, and it's even a little hard to blame them for capitalizing on an opportunity to make some money as an emerging act.  But many established musicians have written original music just for commercial purposes, including Jack White, David Bowie, Mary J. Blige, The Flaming Lips, Tegan and Sara, and even The Rolling Stones.  Use the power of the Internet search engine, science fiction aficionados, to learn how pervasive popular music in advertising really is.

In 2017, it seems just as likely that you will hear new music from your favorite artist in commercial as on the radio, and the lines between what is art and what is commercial are becoming more and more blurred.  And so Lloyd Biggle, Jr. tackles this idea, all the back in 1957, in the story "Tunesmith."

The Story
I've seen this story referred to as a novelette, and it is longer, similar to "Call Me Joe" (it still can be easily read in an hour or less, though).  A thorough summary could get long, so I'm going to try to keep it deliberately short, which is a little change I wanted to make from my first two posts anyhow.

Erlin Baque is a Tunesmith.  A tunesmith does what you think, they write tunes.  But in this future dystopia, set roughly in the twenty-fourth century, all music is written only as commercials, or Coms.  In fact, no one plays real instruments anymore; all music is written and performed on something called a multichord, which is a device that sounds a lot like a modern electric keyboard that allows you to select different instrument sounds.  Baque is a bit of a cranky man in the story - he seems to be frustrated that art is pretty much dead.  His coms are the best ones, and consequently, he doesn't make as much money as other tunesmiths - his coms stay popular for too long.

Baque is so fed up that he quits his job as a tunesmith and goes to work at a questionable establishment called the Lanky-Pank Out.  Lanky is hiring a tunesmith to play live music - usually the coms are heard on a television-like device called a visiscope, but Lanky tore his out.  Baque will play coms with live singers.

When Baque first begins playing at Lanky's, he notices that the customers are really responding to the live music, with their heads jerking, feet stomping, and bodies swaying.  During a break, he decides to do something unprecedented: he plays music on his own, without singers, an instrumental.  The effect this has on the crowd disturbs even Baque.
His hands played on hypnotically, and he stared in horror at the scene that erupted below him.  Lasciviousness twisted every face. Men were on their feet, reaching for the women, clutching, pawing.  A chair crashed to the floor, and a table, and no one noticed.  A woman's dress fluttered crazily downward, and the pursued were pursuers with Baque helplessly allowed his fingers to race onward, out of control.

I guess they liked the music.

As time goes by, Baque's popularity and notoriety grow, eventually attracting the attention of a man named James Denton, called the czar of visiscope.   Denton is the villain of the story, and he basically uses the visiscope to force people to listen to commercials 24 hours a day - he has turned the world into a perfect captive audience.  Of course, as with most dystopias, people don't even realize they are living in one - this is all they know music to be.  Until Baque comes along.

Denton, realizing how dangerous Baque could be to the visiscope empire, ultimately has him framed for murder, but it is too late.  Baque has inspired a renewed interest in art for art's sake, and despite spending many years in prison, lives long enough to see the creation of a center for art that is cherished throughout the solar system.

What it all means
I read somewhere that Lloyd Biggle, Jr. is the only known science fiction author (published and well-known, I assume) to hold a degree in musicology.  Makes sense, seeing as how Tunesmith is all about the power of music and what a world without it as art might look like.  I would definitely classify Tunesmith as dystopian science fiction.  A world where all the music is in commercials and no one plays instruments anymore sounds horrible to me.

When I first came across this story, video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band were at the height of their popularity, and something about those games really bugged me.  I think it was that people spent untold hours getting good at playing a fake guitar.  Imagine how good they could be if they put that time into a real instrument!  The Guitar Hero-type games reminded me of the multichord from Tunesmith.  They still take some skill to learn to play, but you're only replicating an instrument's sound, not playing the real thing.  Biggle anticipated music being played this way!

The multichord also reminds me a lot of the classic Casio keyboard many of us had as kids, where you could push a button to get a clarinet sound, or flute, or whatever.  As near as I can find, the Casio didn't come out until about 1980, so I find it awesomely prophetic that Biggle was writing about such a device in the 1950s.

Finally, sometimes I like to think about the time period in which the author originally wrote the story.  It was probably sometime in 1956/57 when Lloyd Biggle started writing this story - did the "birth of rock and roll" in the 1950s inspire him?  Maybe he was something of a music snob, and hearing the likes of Elvis and the Big Bopper made him think that music and art were on their way out.

If that's the case, boy am I glad he was wrong on that one.

Next weeks story will be "A Saucer of Loneliness" by Theodore Sturgeon.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

All You Zombies

I'm not sure if this is the exact issue
"All You Zombies" first appeared in,
but how cool are these vintage scifi
"All You Zombies" by Robert A. Heinlein
First published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1959
Read the story here - SPOILERS BELOW

Most people probably wish that they could go back in time to change the past.  I know I do!  We've made mistakes that have made our present (and coming future) more difficult.  So if we could just go fix things...

But time travel is complicated.  Countless stories and movies have tried to deal with the ideas of what might happen if we traveled and meddled with the past.  Would a small change to the past create alternate timelines into the future, changing our lives as we know them?  Could we create a paradox that would rip the fabric of the universe and completely destroy reality?  What if we got stuck in a loop...?

Think about it (though it may hurt your head to think about it - it hurts mines, but is still fun to try to do!).  You, right now, decide to go back in time to change something from your life (because you can do that in this scenario).  So you do, and that changes your life; however, as the past you that you visited ages through time, they eventually become the you that decided to travel back in time to visit yourself - and must travel back in time, since that's what you did.  Essentially, once you open that particular Pandora's box, you may enter a loop of time travel.

The Story
This story is a fun little mind-bender.  A quick YouTube search turns up a couple of different summaries of the timeline in the plot, and you can study this simple (yet complex) graphic HERE.  I'll do my best to summarize simply...

A bartender is working at an establishment called Pop's Place when someone known as the Unmarried Mother comes in.  The Unmarried Mother is a 25 year old man who writes confession stories, trashy "true" tales meant to titillate readers.  He is surprisingly good at writing the woman's angle - there is a good reason for this, revealed later.

The bartender and the Unmarried Mother make a little wager about whether or not the story of the Unmarried Mother's life will astonish the bartender.  So the Unmarried Mother begins his tale: he began life as a little girl dropped off at an orphanage (yes, a little girl).  Being quite ugly as a young woman, by his own description, the Unmarried Mother decided that no man would ever want her, and so planned to join the Women's Emergency National Corps, Hospitality & Entertainment Section (WENCHES), now called "Space Angels" (Auxilary Nursing Group, Extraterrestrial Legions), and formerly called Women's Hospitality Order Refortifying & Encouraging Spacemen (spell that as an acronym for a little chuckle - Heinlein has a wicked sense of humor!).

Before she was old enough to enlist, she worked as a mother's helper/servant.  It was at this time that she met a man who flashed a lot of money and was nice to her.  She saw him a bit and was happy.  And then she says, "Then one night in the park the games began.  And then nothing!  I never saw him again."  This is a bit mysterious; it's not clear if she was raped or not, but they did have sex - some time later she realized she was pregnant.

Fast-forward to the end of the pregnancy, and she wakes up after having a Caesarian.  She learns that she has had a healthy girl.  But the doctor has a bigger surprise for her - he tells that her that she is a man.  It turns out that when he opened her up, there were two full sets of organs, male and female.  The female ones were developed enough to have a baby, but were pretty much destroyed after the pregnancy.  So the doctor rearranged things so she could develop as a man.  To add insult to injury, the baby was kidnapped from the hospital nursery.

The bartender acknowledges that the Unmarried Mother wins the bet, and says he can deliver the guy who did this to him/her, if he agrees to work for him.  The Unmarried Mother agrees, and using an element of surprise, the bartender throws a time traveling net device over the two of them, taking them to...

The bartender gives the Unmarried Mother a bunch of cash (time period appropriate, of course) and drops him off to encounter the man who took advantage of her (back when he was a she).  The bartender then time travels to...

The bartender goes to the hospital and kidnaps the Unmarried Mother's baby, named Jane.  The bartender and the baby then time travel to...

The bartender drops the baby off at an orphanage.  He then travels to...

It is three weeks later than when he dropped off the Unmarried Mother, and he grabs him after he has seduced and had sex with Jane (who is now 19).  The Unmarried Mother is shocked at a sudden realization, made clearer by the bartender who says, "Now you know who he is - and if you think it over you'll know who you are...and if you think hard enough, you'll figure out who the baby is...and who I am."  For clarity: they are all the same person!  He then brings the unmarried mother to...

They arrive at a time travelers' base, and the bartender leaves the Unmarried Mother here, with instructions to the staff to put him down for the night and recruit him in the morning.  The bartender then travels back to...

He arrives back at the bar, only one minute after he originally left.  Leaving a note on the register, he tells the bar manager that he is going on a long vacation.  He time travels to...

This appears to be the bartender's "real" time, and he reflects on his job.  He's tired of recruiting, and wants a reassignment.  He crawls into bed, and the story ends with this thought: "You aren't really there at all.  There isn't anybody but me - Jane - here alone in the dark.  I miss you dreadfully!"

What it all means
A man seduces himself when he was a female, kidnaps the resulting baby, brings that baby back in time where she grows up to be the woman he seduces (himself).  After the seduction, he brings himself to a time traveling agency where he will work and eventually go back in time to recruit himself.  This loop will continue indefinitely.  Head hurt yet?

A short review on The Heinlein Society web page mentions that Heinlein plays with the idea of solipsism in a number of his works.  I am not familiar with enough of Heinlein's material to give other examples, but it does make sense here.  Solipsism is a view that the self is all that we can be certain exists.  I know I exist; I am here inside my head.  I don't know if anyone or anything outside of me really exists; maybe all of this is a projection of my mind.  Maybe I'm dead.  The bartender/Jane definitely seems to feel this way.  This story almost seems like a way for Heinlein to put the view/theory into a "real life" scenario.

I like that idea, but I also like the idea that Heinlein is exploring the complexities of time travel.  This story plays somewhat on the Grandfather paradox of time travel, where a person travels back in time and kills their grandfather, thereby preventing themselves from ever being born.  But if they were never born, they couldn't have traveled back in time to kill the grandfather in the first place.  If the bartender doesn't travel in time to seduce, impregnate, kidnap, and recruit himself, he'll never exist.  It does make me wonder: how did this loop start?  It also makes me think that messing with time is not something I want to do.

Finally, I want to mention again how funny Heinlein is in this story.  When you read the story for a second time, you catch all sorts of little things he drops in that are hints the bartender and the Unmarried Mother (all the characters) are actually the same person.  For example:
"The Unmarried Mother was a man twenty-five years old, no taller than I am..."
 "I didn't like his looks - I never had..."
"No one in my family ever marries.  All bastards." 
"Just a man, with a face-shaped face, like yours or mine."

And let's end with Heinlein's clever and thought-provoking "By-Laws of Time," posted over Jane's bed:
Never Do Yesterday What Should Be Done Tomorrow.
If At Last You Do Succeed, Never Try Again.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine Billion.
A Paradox May Be Paradoctored.
It Is Earlier When You Think.
Ancestors Are Just People.
Even Jove Nods.
Next week's story is "Tunesmith" by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Call Me Joe

"Call Me Joe" by Poul Anderson
First published in Astounding Science Fiction, April 1957
Read the story here - SPOILERS BELOW

One of the inevitable things that happens as we get older is our bodies change.  Think about what you physically looked like when you first came into this world: a tiny, wrinkly creature covered in goo!  Then we grow and we change and we grow and we change, getting stronger and stronger...sometime around the age of 18-25, we probably physically feel and look the best we ever will, and we feel like ourselves, like who we are.  And then, we change again.

We get older.  Our bodies don't quite respond the way they used to.  We aren't as fast, as flexible, as physically resilient.  Wrinkles and gray hairs begin to appear.  And yet, we still feel like ourselves.  We are still who we are.

Eventually, our bodies become exceedingly frail, sometimes preventing everyday movement that we would have considered normal before, maybe even a critical part of who we are.  But, excepting mental health complications, we are still who we are.  Death will come, leading to a great unknown that countless religions and philosophers have wrestled with: what happens to the "you," to the "me," when the physical body dies?

How much of your "you-ness" is dependent upon your physicality?  When you lose your ability to sprint a race, are you no longer you?  If you lose a leg, or both legs, are you different from the "you" you were before?  What if your gender changes?  Is who you are completely dependent on the biology you were born with?

The Story
These ideas are at the heart of "Call Me Joe" by Poul Anderson.  In the story, or novella, if you prefer (it is a fairly long story), humans are exploring Jupiter.  To contend with Jupiter's harsh environment, scientists have biologically engineered a "pseudojovian," a creature that can physically survive on the surface of the large planet.  The Jovian is described as a "feline centaur with a thick prehensile tail - the torso was squat, long-armed, immensely muscular; the hairless head was round, wide-nosed, with big, deep-set eyes and heavy jaws...the overall color was bluish gray."

Named Joe, this pseudojovian is controlled remotely by Edward Anglesey, referred to as an esman.  The esman connects himself to a piece of technology called a esprojector, which amplifies a person's natural psionic pulses, or brainwaves/thoughts.  The esprojector focuses Edward's amplified psionic pulses into Joe's brain...which only works because when Joe was "born" into consciousness, Edward's mind was there.  Joe never had an opportunity to develop his own mind.  In the story, Edward points out that it has proved quite dangerous, and likely impossible, to seize control of another brain, a brain with its own background.  This comes up as the conflict in the story is revealed...

Anglesey's esprojector is malfunctioning, burning out.  An expert in psionics, Jan Cornelius, is summoned to try to figure out why it's happening.  He posits several theories.  The main one designed to set up the twist of the story is that Anglesey's subconscious doesn't want to be on Jupiter - for a human, Jupiter is a pretty unpleasant place.  This causes a reaction with a key component of the esprojector, causing it to burn out.  Anglesey himself tries to refute this theory, painting a beautiful picture of how wonderful Jupiter is for a creature who is meant to live there:
Imagine walking under a glowing violet sky, where great flashing clouds sweep the earth with shadow and rain strides beneath them.  Imagine walking on the slopes of a mountain like polished metal, with a clean red flame exploding above you and thunder laughing in the ground.  Imagine a cool wild stream, and low trees with dark coppery flowers, and a waterfall, methane-fall...whatever you like, leaping off a cliff, and the strong live wind shakes its mane full of rainbows!  Imagine a whole forest, dark and breathing, and here and there you glimpse a pale-red wavering will-o'-the-wisp, which is the life radiation of some fleet shy animal, and...and - imagine being strong!
It's worth mentioning here that Edward Anglesey is in a wheelchair, and this is his way of explaining to Cornelius that when his mind is in Joe's biological brain, he enjoys being on Jupiter.  He is not afraid and desperate to come back to his own body.

But Cornelius doesn't listen.  As the story goes on, he becomes more convinced that Joe is "taking over" Anglesey's mind, and Anglesey's thoughts about being on Jupiter are actually coming from Joe, who is coming into his own.  Anglesey's resistance to Joe taking over is becoming more and more futile.

As a final way of determining what is really going on, Cornelius decides to tap in and listen to what is going on in Anglesey's mind.  Normally, according to the science in the story, a psionist could listen in to a subject's thoughts without the subject being aware of it.  However, Anglesey does become aware of Cornelius's presence, and roars, "Get out of my mind!"  He tells Cornelius that Cornelius's theory was wrong, as Anglesey said before, that he is not afraid to go to the surface of Jupiter.  Then Cornelius realizes that he is listening to Anglesey's mind in Joe's body, and that Joe isn't taking over at all.  Anglesey realizes this too, and kicks Cornelius out of his mind.

The Conclusion
Back in the research lab, Cornelius discusses what happened.  Edward Anglesey's body is in the sick bay dying, and the scientists are worried that this spells the end of their research project.  How can they continue asking esmen to explore planets using esprojectors if it kills them?  Cornelius reassures them that this is just the beginning.  Edward Anglesey will have died in only one facet - his body.  His mind continues to live in a new body, Joe.  He points out that they now will have an unlimited amount of esmen - hopeless cripples and the elderly will jump at the chance to have another lifetime in a new, strong body.

This explains what was happening with the malfunctioning esprojector.  It wasn't burning out due to the conflict of Anglesey not wanting to enter Joe's body to go to Jupiter.  It was burning out due to Anglesey not wanting to leave Jupiter and leave Joe's body.

The doctor attending to Edward Anglesey emphasizes this at the end of the story by saying, "Odd.  I've seen these cases before.  People who simply resign from life.  This is the first one I ever saw that went out smiling - smiling all the time."

What it all means
I don't want to tell you what you should think of a story or its definitive meaning.  But here are some of the deeper thoughts I think Poul Anderson is getting at with this story:

  1.  We are naturally afraid of things that are different, and often think those things are dangerous.  The scientists in the story thought that Joe was trying to "take over" Edward, so Joe was the "enemy" in the story, to an extent.  Joe's body looked extremely different from a human body.  Those who look different from us must be bad.  But Joe wasn't the enemy at all, just a different looking body.
  2.  Our essence is our mind/soul, not our body.  Joe didn't exist as an mind/entity, just as a body.  Edward was still Edward, both in the Anglesey body and the Joe body.  I can't help but connect this to the hot topic of gender transitioning.  Is not the person's mind/essence the same whether the body they are in is male, female, or no clear gender at all?
  3. The afterlife, life after these bodies we call human bodies die, is wherever our mind goes next.  Every religion has its own idea - a heaven with bodies, a heaven without bodies, or entering a new body on Earth.  Who knows?  But one thing is certain - you're not taking the current body you're in with you.
The Avatar note
You can't hardly talk about "Call Me Joe" without mentioning the obvious connection to the movie Avatar.  Clearly, there is a conceptual similarity: a crippled man's mind controls a new, alien body via technology.  The alien bodies in both stories are even blue!  After that, the stories are very different.  Completely different, really.  Did James Cameron get the alien body control idea from "Call Me Joe?"  It seems unlikely that it's a coincidence since "Call Me Joe" is a fairly well known and often anthologized science fiction story.  Is credit owed to Poul Anderson?  Legally?  Ethically?  Morally?  I don't know.

Fun bonus!
If you're really into classic science fiction, here's a radio play version of "Call Me Joe."